Welcome to another edition of “Through The Lens“.
In each article we’ll show you just how easy it is to shoot professional looking photos of your finds, just like in magazines, using only the camera in your phone.
We’ll share some basic, but important photography tips that will dramatically improve your photos and have you shooting like a pro in no time.
This month we’re talking about simple “tips n tricks” to make beautiful shots easy.
Just because you don’t have a high-end camera and lens doesn’t mean we can’t take stunning shots with our smartphones out in the field.
TURN ON THE GRID
As Treasure Hunters, we often have little time to set up a shot of our finds out in the field. It’s usually dig, recover, clean and snap! As a result, the elements within the photo often takes a backseat. How you arrange the elements (composition) within an image makes or breaks a shot. Background, target, focus & blurring etc. all come into play here, so getting this right is key to great shots.
An easy way to achieve this pretty much straight away is to start using the “Grid” feature in your smartphone. All smartphones have this feature which you can easily turn on. For iOS (Apple) phones go to Settings > Camera > Grid. For Android phones go to Camera > Settings > Grid Lines. When activated, it shows 9 squares overlaid across the screen. They do NOT appear in the image.
Now, when you position your find in the middle square of the grid, it’s now dead centre of the image. TICK! We’ve now mastered centering our images. Imagine now, an additional subject positioned off-centre in the background. The viewer is then encouraged to look beyond the main subject and further explore the remaining photo. This is where you can position supporting subjects like seashells for a beach find or a chunk of quartz for a gold find to provide the context and narrative to the photo.
By using the grid feature each time you take a shot, you’re going to ensure it’s always level and centered. Not to mention all the other fun background and foreground items you can stage and play with.
TRY COLOUR BLOCKING
Have you ever seen an image where everything is black and white except for a single object? It’s a spectacular effect that’s called “Colour Blocking”. There are many free apps available for smartphones that will allow you to pull off this professional look with your images.
Colour blocking highlights the elements of a photo that you want to stand out, like the patina on an old coin or the yellow of a piece of gold. It focuses on a single object in order to make it stand out using colour, or lack of colour. A bright yellow piece of gold on a black and white background will stand out dramatically. The idea is to draw the viewers gaze to a certain focal point of the image you want to highlight.
Using “Colour Blocking” can be an extremely easy way to display those rare, special finds in a dramatic fashion with minimal effort.
GO WITH A THEME
If you do decide to use props to highlight your finds, go with a theme. The theme can be based on pre-decimal era coins, old artifacts and relics or something as simple as a beach backdrop for a ring find. A theme helps make your find more visually appealing and helps viewers associate the images to the scene in which they were found.
Themes can be a beautiful overarching concept that you, as the photographer, bring to life your finds for the first time in decades, or centuries. For any Treasure Hunter, working within a theme can change the entire look and feel of your find.